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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Homemade Beer!

          My fiance is a beer-lover to say the least. He tries a new beer any chance he gets, & seeks out every micro-brewery he can find when we go on vacation. On our Colorado road trip back in 2009 I am pretty sure we went to ~7 microbreweries  - & he tried each beer they had at each one. lol I indulged & tried a few as well, but the higher alcohol content + the higher altitude put me on my butt after just one. :-P
         This Christmas I had wanted to buy him a home-made beer kit so he could brew his own beer. After searching & searching I came across the perfect one at William Sonoma while shopping for my Dad's Christmas gift, Brooklyn BrewShop. Unfortunately, Henry was with me at the time so I had to buy it while he was there. Let me explain - living in Cleburne we have to drive 30-60 minutes to reach a decent mall - more of about 60 to get to a William Sonoma. Now multiple places have beer kits, but William Sonoma had a beer-kit with a GLASS fermenting jar - that is the biggest difference. However, Henry was not allowed to use the beer-kit until Christmas day. :-)
          We finally got a free weekend to get the process started - while I up-cycled an old kitchen light frame, Henry started on his home brew. :-) I took some photos along the way. It will be 4 weeks until we can actually try the beer to see if it was a fail or success. :-) 

Making the "mash" 
Straining the hops - putting the brew into the fermentor
Adding yeast to the brew

The set-up for fermentation - blow-off tube in sanitized water so the jar won't blow-up as the yeast ferments, & to prevent contamination from entering the tube into the brew, therefore killing the yeast - that would be no good!

         Now the fun of waiting 3 days before the next step!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Ups & Downs of Wedding Planning: Guest List

         We all know planning a wedding can be as fun, or as stressful as you choose to make it. Everything in life is a CHOICE, for the most part, given you don't have a gun to your head. Well my fiance and I have chosen to make this experience as stress-free as possible. How? Well let me tell you!
          We know that most of the financial burden will be placed on our own shoulders, which is to be expected. We are grown-ups, graduated from college, living in our own home that we bought. This wedding is what WE want, so WE should be the ones footing the bill. I mean it never made sense to me that a parent had to PAY to send their own child off into the future. Once you turn 18, you are an adult and your own responsibility, your parents don't have to pay for crap! lol Now if they do, wonderful! That is a sincere, thoughtful gift. SO, since we are footing the bill, to have the wedding we want (or more specifically I want since Henry's idea was to skydive while we say our I-do's), and to the have the honeymoon we want (more specifically Henry since he is the biggest world traveler), we will have a 2 yr 6 month long engagement to save for the entire thing.

The first stop on our honeymoon - Mykonos - one of the beautiful Greek islands, recommended by a greek family friend - known for its night-life! Oh I cannot wait!
       We are having a laid back wedding. I mean the groom and the groomsmen will be wearing Blake Shelton like attire on the wedding day - aka blue jeans, boots, & a nice suit jacket. Myself & the bridesmaids will be wearing cowgirl boots. It's Texas, the wedding is outdoors, & we want people to be able to move & dance freely, not be restricted by formal attire - I want our guests to be COMFORTABLE - that is so important to us - this is after all a celebration, we want people to party!

From the - Henry and I love the look of Blake Sheltons attire on his wedding day. Henry was rather shocked that this city girl was willing to let him be so comfortable on his wedding day, but this is Henry's style, He isn't Mr. Tux & Bow-Tie - his groomsmen seem to be equally happy. :-) Which in turn makes me happy. Everyone is HAPPY! YIPPEE!
        But, there are always going to be bumps in any sort of wedding process - our bump - the guest list. Now most horror stories are how the Mother-of-the-Bride & Mother-in-Law-To-Be are wanting each and every family member that ever saw you once since you were knee-high to attend your wedding. People you have probably only ever seen once or twice, or probably don't even remember seeing! Relatives who may have been important in their lives through the years, but probably weren't very present in YOUR life. Guests should be people that are important to BOTH of you, yes there may be a distant relative or two who is important to the groom or bride that one has never met, sure, invite them! But our problem isn't family members wanting other family members to be invited - our problem is US.
The best in-laws a girl could ever dream of having! I love Herman & Blondie like I do my own parents - they have been there for me and supported me as if I was another one of their SIX kids! They are some of the most self-less people I have ever met. I am truly blessed to have them in my life.

         We both have rather LARGE families, so the majority of our list consists of family members. Henry being from a small town also has a TON of friends he has known since junior high, even elementary - and he wants all of them there! ALL. OF. THEM. Half of these people I have never met, some of them have straight up to my face said they don't even like me - now why on earth would I want these people at OUR wedding? The wedding should be to celebrate US with people who know and support US. If I don't know you, or have never met you, then in my opinion that name is off the list. Not only does he want those friends I have never met attending, he wants their families there too. I love and adore the fact that Henry has so many friends he loves. I think that is awesome! But what I love about Henry, is also part of what I hate. Lord help me.
Some of the best friends I could ever ask for who will most definitely be there to celebrate our big day with us! From left to right: Jordan, Kristin, Lauryn (bridesmaid), myself, Casey (best-man), Emily, Henry, Danni (bridesmaid), Trevor
We have definitely been through some adventures with this group!

        Ok let me break this down for you so you can understand. Our guest attendance on our wedding day is ideally 150 people - mostly because of cost and the venue size. They say half the people you invite won't show. So let's say we invite 300 people. That is 150 people for Henry, 150 for me. After FAMILY we both only have room for like 30 friends each. Which given my situation, my family are my friends, and most of my friends coming are involved in the wedding aka bridesmaids. Then there are a select few friends I knew through high-school that will be invited, and then another select few I met in college and post college. So let's say that is 15 friends. This now gives Henry 45 friends to invite. After Henry's friends, and friends family members, our guest list has exceeded 500 - FIVE-HUNDRED! THAT IS 200 - TWO. HUNDRED. MORE THAN WE PLANNED ON INVITING. What is his reasoning for inviting each person? I lived with this guy for a year - I never met him - I stayed with this family a few times -I don't know this family - I stayed with this other family a few times - This family doesn't even speak ENGLISH! Much less, do I know them - This friend offered to let us come stay with him in Argentina, we have to invite him - Again, never met the dude - I hung out with this guy a lot during high-school - And?

3 of my best friends from high-school & college celebrating our ring dunk with us! A very important, very serious, Texas A&M tradition celebrating the long hard 90 hours it took to receive our Aggie Rings! Left to right: Sean, Chris, myself, Ross, Henry

A night at our house in Cleburne - A few of Henry's guy friends from high-school came over to enjoy an old game they for some odd reason ENJOY playing. Duck taping beer to your hand - you must drink all the beer before you can un-duck tape it - so good luck going to the bathroom gentlemen! Chug-a-lug! Left to Right: Lorenzo (groomsman), Carlos, Justin (groomsman), Henry
Of all Henry's female friends in Cleburne, these two are my absolute favorites! They are a blast to hang out with and completely genuine. Lacey actually owns a party rental business & helping us decorate our wedding! Left to right: Myself, Haleigh, Lacey
          Let's not even get me started on the awkward situation of having a "friend" tell me they don't like me to my face, continually talk crap to my face & from what other friends tell me behind my back as well, tell Henry he doesn't like who he's become since he's met me and then pretend everything is A-OKAY and everyone's still best buds. I mean a few cordial, very short, post-drama hangouts do not necessarily mean a changed man. THEN we both are friends with the family members, so now how do we go about inviting the "friend" AND their family? OR not invite the "friend", but still invite the family? Awkward. It's a completely inconvenient situation because some friends can't handle other friends growing up. Everyone has that friend. I had that friend in college & am no longer friends with her, she wanted me to be her single, drinking, dancing BFF forever - and I met Henry - she didn't like that -so I had to move on without her. Which was semi-easy, because we eventually moved to different states. Henry has that same friend, he wants Henry to be his traveling, stupidly drunk, party all the time, bachelor BFF - and Henry met me - he didnt like that - only problem, Henry is from a small-town, you can't just drop a friend and move on. EVERYONE knows your business, everyone hangs out with everyone, ALWAYS AND FOR FREAKING EVER. SO, there is no avoiding any one person, unless you want to avoid the whole town. Not happening. I love this town too much to let one person and a few insults ruin that for us.
         We both would LOVE to invite everyone, even the drunkenly rude friend despite his numerous past mishaps and insults - but, since the problem always starts when drinking gets involved how do we insure that the person who openly admits they don't support us, doesn't openly disprove of us or embarrass us on our wedding day? In front of all our friends and family? Do we take the gamble, be nice, and invite him, hoping that he has matured in some way to be happy for us? Then that also means, this friend gets a spot in front of 200 other perfectly sweet, supportive friends, who have never insulted us. That makes me cringe a bit. Or do we go by past experiences, assume it will once again happen and avoid any possible chance of drama? Which means a permanent split in small town gatherings because so-and-so wasn't invited and now we can't all hang out in the same group anymore. Which is rather childish, but apparently how this small town works. It's a fine line because we want to be friends with everyone - we want everyone to come to our wedding! If we could afford it we would have all 500 people come to our wedding. But we can't, much less will our venue hold that many lol.

SB10 - Hanging out with my sister, best friend, and 2 friends of Henry who are awesome! I love these two guys, despite their sassy attitudes. Yes, I said sassy. Left to right: Benito, myself, Stefanie (Maid of Honor/Sister), Lorenzo (Groomsman), Danni (Bridesmaid)

Cleburne guys celebrating Henry's successful Ring Dunk! :-) Left to right: Gilbert, Jesus, Benito, Henry, Lorenzo (Groomsman), Justin (Groomsman), Casey (Best Man)

One of our many girls night adventures. Best girlfriends a girl could ask for! You can bet these women will be dancing fools alongside me on my wedding day and I CAN NOT WAIT! Left to right: Emily, Myself, Kristin, Lauryn (Bridesmaid), Stefanie (Maid of Honor/Sister), Danni (Bridesmaid)
          So, this is where we stand. Torn between many, many friends, who have been there through the ups and downs, the goods and bads. I mean why do we have to be so dang awesome and loved? If more people would hate us, it would make this a lot easier. JK :-) Oh the lovely bumps in wedding planning. We need to figure this out quick too, because Save-the-Dates are like a month away from being sent out.
         Any advice or tips - lecturing - please feel free to provide! I love all of it! <3

Monday, January 16, 2012

Wedding Centerpiece Ideas

          Henry and I got engaged April 24, 2010 - our wedding date is October 13, 2012 - 9 months away!!! Finally we are under a year away.
          With that said, I have been browsing ideas for centerpieces like crazy! I want our wedding to have as much DIY as possible, so it has to be something I can easily put together. I want to stay away from a lot fresh flowers so I can make centerpieces as far in advance as possible. I don't want to be scrambling the week of our wedding to put EVERYTHING together, especially since I work, and our wedding is 2 1/2 hours away from where we live. Eeek! 
          Our theme goes with the blog, "Country Boy Meets City Girl" - this means a lot of natural touches. Below are inspiration photos I have found browsing various websites:
Another blog full of wonderful ideas : Style Me Pretty - I absolutely LOVE the use of cotton. COTTON! Who would've thought?? This is so classy & rustic to me, which for our wedding style = perfection!
Another photo from Style Me Pretty of the previous centerpiece. I can't get enough!

This simple decoration photo of mason jars, floating candles & raffia can be found at My Bride Idea - a wonderful blog full of inspiration!
This photo is from one of the most organized blogs I have ever stumbled upon Luxe Finds: I know I said I wanted very few fresh flowers, but I love the colors, the long wooden box, pumpkins & fall colored leaves. 
This photo is courtesy of Save-On-Crafts - a fabulous website full of really well priced items to decorate any event! I love this photo with the use of the branches, grapevine balls, candles & strategically placed flowers. Now if I were to do this it would be a little toned down - I feel like this particular one has too much going on, but you get the idea, right?
Another photo from save-on-crafts with the use of branches and floral arrangements.

          Needless to say our computer is filling up with wedding photos. hehe These are just a FEW of the many centerpiece photos I have lol Hopefully these can inspire you in some way too. As always, feel free to share any centerpiece ideas you have as well! I love new ideas. :-)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Country Goodness {No 2.}

     This past weekend was New Years Eve!! Whoop! We did have plans to go to Houston - my hometown - to a wine bar called "The Corkscrew" with some friends we went to college with and who are now some of our best friends! Unfortunately, I got extremely sick at work on Thursday. I mean I was literally doing a semen analysis and throwing up in a trash can pulled up next to me at the same time. Luckily, my later analysis cancelled so I was able to clock out, lay down, and wait for my fiance's secretary to pick me up from work. Yes his secretary picked me up from work. Being in Cleburne I have no family, no reliable friends, nothing. So yes his secretary. Feel sorry for me. :-)
     To make things worse my "holiday" to work was New Years Eve - so we were going to drive down after work, party, family sunday, drive home Monday. THEN Henry finds out he has to leave town for work, AGAIN, on Monday. So, a 5-hour drive to Houston would be pointless. PLAN B - HICO!
     My soon to be sister-in-law Audrey was in town with her fiance, Aaron, so she drove the hour and a half from Hico, where Henry's parents currently have a ranch, to pick me up Thursday and bring me back to Hico so I wouldn't be home alone all sick. This is also where we ended up spending our New Years Eve. :-) Which was amazing! I absolutely adore Henrys family - minus the old bully thief & Mickey Mouse character.
     First fun adventure: waking up to a deer being "processed" by Aaron and his son, Jake - and my dog gnawing on one of its chopped off legs! I mean I buy bones at Petco or PetSmart - but this one had fresh blood and fur still on the leg - and did I mention MY CITY-RAISED, CUDDLY, FUZZY-BUTT, BABY BOY was happily gnawing on it?? I mean I could hear the crunching and squishing! Then, Tux was running around after me with it in his mouth, grinning, like it was another one of his tennis balls or frisbees, saying "Play with me! Play with me!". Yuck! haha
Tux and his beloved gag deer leg

After I told Tux "drop it" so I could get a better photo of the deer leg
     Fun adventure number 2: Four wheeling in the dark with his family! I can't believe I never grew up with four-wheelers. Well, actually I can. Henry busted his nose open and had to have stitches - his sister Audrey hit her chin on the handles or something and split her chin open. I mean we are talking about having parents who wouldn't let me play soccer because "I would get bruised or brain damage". So of course I wouldn't have anything cool like a four-wheeler, much less any place to ride the dang thing.
With Henry's sister in the kitchen taking shots - Audrey hates this photo but too bad! I don't. :-)
     So, here we are 11 o'clock at night, Henry grabs me out of the kitchen, as I am taking shots with Audrey, to go four-wheeling. I love how well Henry drives a four-wheeler, kind of sexy! We hop on one, Aarons sister and her boyfriend hop on another, Henry's mom - yes his mom! She is a badass! - she hops on a third, then Henry's dad gets the "mule" with Aarons parents in front, and kids Alanna, Ariana, & Peyton in the back. We all take off through the property. Henry's mom is speeding past us! Then Aarons sister and bf are gaining on our butt - Henry whips through a path I didn't even know was there and comes out ahead of everyone! His mom yells, "Hey you cheated!" LOL We finally make it to the cow pasture and start racing full speed ahead - did I mention our four-wheeler only had the left brake BARELY working? - toward a pond I remember Henry shooting a lot of snakes in this past summer! Next thing I know we slide to stop right before the edge of the pond - Henry can be a real punk sometimes! Henry then takes off in the pasture along the line and decides to play his mom in a game of chicken that she wasn't aware of. Then off to the house we go! I am so sore! lol

Laying down with my two baby boys after lots of fun - Tux had to wrap his paws up because he spent so much time chasing four-wheelers on the rocky ground it ripped off a layer of his paw pads :-(
     Fun adventure number 3: Fireworks! Aaron bought a crap ton of fireworks that day so off we all went to a gravel pit to shoot off the fireworks, a safe distance from the house, with this drought we didn't want the house catching fire! The guys continue lighting fireworks, you get your "ooohs" "awwwws" followed by "burn out! burn out!" as the ashes scatter the ground - THEN Aaron whips out these things that he lights, waits a second, then tosses in the air towards us!!!!  Now the first round are fine, you can see where its going, run away, and it "blows up" "bursts" whatever you want to call it. THE SECOND ROUND was the scary round! These were different! Aaron lights them, waits a second, tosses it in the air towards us -same as before - only these don't land where you expect! They light up green in the air, then full speed zip towards the ground in a random direction and burst in a split second!!! We were screaming! I am pretty sure Henry's dad was getting rather angry at some point. One flew right between my legs and burst too! I would've been pissed had it ruined my new Miss Me jeans! But it was a fun adrenaline rush for all involved - especially when Aarons sister snuck up behind them with a hand full of the zipping fireworks and starting tossing them at Aaron to give him the same torture who was submitting us to. LOL Gotta love siblings!

Audrey caught in the sparks of a firework - it was extremely windy!

More firework sparks at the gravel pit or whatever they call it. :-)
    Even though it wasn't the New Years Eve adventure we had planned, it was a ton of fun! It was nice eating dinner with my in-law family, then waking up and having breakfast with everyone as well. It was a great way to end 2011 and to begin 2012 - surrounded by loved ones.